Curious George and the Birthday Surprise

Common Sense Media says

George's birthday brings treats and laughs for all.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn one reason it's not a great idea for youngsters to operate kitchen appliances without an adult: frosting everywhere! They'll also explore problem-solving skills, George-style.

Positive messages

It's OK to be curious, even if it results in a little mischief and a big mess.

Positive role models

George models pint-size problem solving when he figures out parts of the surprise and then invites dogs into the kitchen to lick up his frosting mess.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Curious George and the Birthday Surprise is one of the later George adventures, written and illustrated in the style of H. A. and Margret Rey after the two original authors passed away. The story and pictures are much in keeping with the original books, offering kids lots of fun and laughs at George's colorful antics. One of the great qualities of George books is that the adorable, curious monkey is always forgiven for his mistakes, and all's well in the end. The only worrisome aspect of this installment is that George uses a stand mixer unsupervised and makes a big mess.

What's the story?

The man with the yellow hat tells George, "Today is a special day." The man has lots to do to prepare a surprise, and he asks George to stay out of trouble. George tries to obey, remaining quiet indoors even when the ice cream truck arrives and all the kids and dogs in the neighborhood line up to get their treats. But, before long, George forgets to stifle his curiosity. He digs into the colorful party supplies that he finds in the living room -- colored tissue and streamers, balloons, hats -- and decorates the walls and furniture with patterns and pictures of jungle creatures. Then he smells something good and finds an unfrosted cake in the kitchen. George decides to make frosting and decorate the cake, but he loses control of the mixer and sends frosting all over the kitchen. He solves this problem by inviting all the neighborhood dogs in to lick up the mess. Then the man with the yellow hat returns home to reveal that the surprise is a party for George's birthday!

Is it any good?


CURIOUS GEORGE AND THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE is a sweet, funny story full of things kids love: party decorations, presents, and a beautiful birthday cake. Children will have fun playing along with George's clueless-enough-to-be-funny detective work. As always, the charming illustrations and George's crazy-but-innocent antics bring a lot of fun and laughs.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about surprises. Did you ever get a wonderful surprise from your family or friends? What was it?

  • What's your favorite Curious George book?

  • What are the decorations on George's birthday cake at the end of the book? Draw a picture of what you would like your birthday cake to look like.

Book details

Authors:Margret Rey, H. A. Rey
Illustrator:Martha Weston
Topics:Adventures, Cats, dogs, and mice, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:September 22, 2003
Number of pages:24
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Read aloud:3 - 7
Read alone:5 - 7
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

This review of Curious George and the Birthday Surprise was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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